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Poem by Ellis Parker Butler

The Tearful Tale of Captain Dan

A sinner was old Captain Dan;
  His wives guv him no rest:
He had one wife to East Skiddaw
  And one to Skiddaw West.

Now Ann Eliza was the name
  Of her at East Skiddaw;
She was the most cantankerous
  Female you ever saw.

I dont know but one crosser-grained,
  And of this Captain Dan
She was the wife at Skiddaw West
  She was Eliza Ann.

Well, this old skeesicks, Captain Dan,
  He owned a ferryboat;
From East Skiddaw to Skiddaw West
  That vessel used to float.

She was as trim a ferry-craft
  As ever I did see,
And on each end a pinted bow
  And pilothouse had she.

She had two bows that way, so when
  She went acrost the sound
She could, to oncet, run back agin
  Without a-turnin round.

Now Captain Dan he sailed that boat
  For nigh on twenty year
Acrost that sound and back agin,
  Like I have stated here.

And never oncet in all them years
  Had Ann Eliza guessed
That Dan he had another wife
  So nigh as Skiddaw West.

Likewise, Eliza Ann was blind,
  Howas she never saw
As Dan he had another wife
  Acrost to East Skiddaw.

The way he fooled them female wives
  Was by a simple plan
That come into the artful brain
  Of that there Captain Dan.

With paint upon that ferry-craft,
  In letters plain to see,
Upon the bow to wit, both ends
  Her name he painted she.

Upon the bow toward East Skiddaw
  This sinful Captain Dan
He painted just one single word
  The same which it was Ann;

And on the bow toward Skiddaw West
  He likewise put one name,
And not no more; and I will state
  Eliza was that same.

Thus, when she berthed to Skiddaw West
  Eliza Ann could see
How Dan for love and gratitood
  Had named her after she;

And likewise when to East Skiddaw
  That boat bow-foremost came,
His Ann Eliza plain could see
  The vessel bore her name.

Thuswise for nigh on twenty year,
  As I remarked before
Dan cumfuscated them two wives
  And sailed from shore to shore.

I reckon he might, to this day,
  Have kept his sinful ways
And fooled them trustin female wives,
  Except there come a haze:

It was a thick November haze
  Accompanied by frost,
And Dan, in steerin crost the sound,
  He got his bearins lost.

So Dan he cast his anchor out,
  And anchored on the sound;
And when the haze riz some next day,
  His boat had swung clean round.

So, not bethinkin how it was,
  Dan steered for Skiddaw West;
For he had sot up all that night,
  And shorely needed rest.

Well, when into his ferry-slip
  His ferry-craft he ran,
Upon the shore he seen his wife:
  To wit, Eliza Ann.

Says he, Ill tie this vessel up
  And rest about a week;
I need a rest, and t was just then
  He heard an awful shriek.

O Villyun! shrieked Eliza Ann.
  Oh! Whatwhat do I see?
You dont not love me any more!
  Youve done deserted me!

She pointed to that ferry-craft
  With one wild, vicious stare.
Dan looked and seen the telltale name
  Of Ann a-painted there!

What could he do? He done his best!
  Lost! Lost! Alas! he cried;
And, kicking off his rubber boots,
  Jumped overboardand died!

Ellis Parker Butler

Ellis Parker Butler's other poems:
  1. New England Magazine
  2. The Ballade of the Automobile
  3. Why I Went to the Foot
  4. The Final Tax
  5. The Charge of the Second Iowa Cavalry

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